HARRISBURG, PA – PinnacleHealth surgeons performed the first completed and published, robotic assisted Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion surgery in the world last week. Surgeons used the da Vinci Si Surgical System®. This new revolutionary and innovative robotic approach offers a minimally invasive alternative to the commonly performed ALIF surgery that typically has longer hospital stays and more blood loss when performed with traditional methods.

“Instead of approaching the spine through a relatively large abdominal incision, we were able to use the da Vinci robot to expose the spine and then use its better imaging capabilities to replace the disk,” states Luciano DiMarco, DO, general surgeon.. “We have extensive experience in performing this procedure laparoscopically, but we wanted the da Vinci robot to take us one step further. We made history today.”

The 52-year-old patient moved easily post-operatively and went home the day after surgery. This is 48 hours less than traditional surgery recovery. Surgery time was two hours 15 minutes from incision to closure, comparable with traditional surgery times. There were no complications. The longest incision was 1-1/2 inches; a modest measure when compared against traditional incisions.

The da Vinci Si Surgical System allows surgeons to see in a three-dimensional plane, providing multi-angle views. This is an enhancement beyond the standard laparoscopic and open techniques.

An anterior fusion on the lumbar (lower) spine is a common surgery for various conditions, such as degenerative disk disease. The surgery stabilizes anterior lumbar spine by fusing the bones together permanently either with a bone graft or an implantable cage.
Dr. DiMarco, William Beutler, MD,  neurosurgeon, and Walter Peppelman, DO, orthopedic and spine surgeon, worked collaboratively with the da Vinci Si Surgical System to perform the first ever spinal fusion surgery. Dr. DiMarco used the da Vinci robot to expose the spine, safely moving the bowels and blood vessels, so that Drs. Beutler and Peppelman could replace her diseased disk with an implant.

“The patient did extremely well and was discharged from the hospital the day after surgery; a two-day decrease in the normal length of stay,” explains Dr. Beutler. “Overall, patients will experience less blood loss, less pain and a shorter recovery time and still have a great outcome.”

The patient began experiencing back pain two years ago. She tried several other treatments, but last June it became clear that they were not working and decided, along with Dr. Peppelman, to have surgery.

Since 2006, PinnacleHealth’s surgeons have used the da Vinci Robotic System for more than 1,300 surgeries. Surgeons at PinnacleHealth use the da Vinci System for a variety of minimally invasive robotic surgical procedures, including cardiac, general, gynecological and urological. In addition, PinnacleHealth performs more than 1,600 inpatient spine procedures each year and offers a full range of services, from diagnostic testing to surgery, to rehabilitation following surgery.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We can make arrangements for you to interview the surgeons and/or the patient. In addition, we have B-roll video of the surgery for your use. If you are interested, please contact Kelly McCall at 231-8104 or 576-2520 (cell).


About PinnacleHealth System
PinnacleHealth is a pioneer not-for-profit healthcare system dedicated to providing and improving the health and quality of life for the people of Central Pennsylvania since 1873. A proven leader in medical innovation, PinnacleHealth offers a wide range of services from primary care to the most complex surgeries and Magnet recognition for nursing excellence.

The healthcare network includes four campuses (Community, Cumberland, Harrisburg and Polyclinic) and medical services, including family practice, imaging, outpatient surgery and oncology, at multiple locations throughout the region. For a complete list of services, visit our website at www.pinnaclehealth.org.